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For decades, lean manufacturing has been practiced. The use of lean tools and strategies typically results in significant increases in productivity and performance. When properly applied, lean is a holistic method that removes waste from production operations, lowering costs and increasing consumer satisfaction.
The following are real-world examples of how simple lean strategies can boost manufacturing productivity and performance.
Late orders and long lead times were causing problems for a printing business. More than 10 percent of the finished product was thrown away as inventory stacked up in its warehouse. A lean team was formed to map the value stream and define waste that could be eliminated from the workflow to increase productivity. Until implementing cellular manufacturing systems, 5S (visual workplace) was also used to optimize workflow.
Results: With significantly shorter lead times, on-time delivery increased to 95 percent, and better inventory management resulted in less finished product waste.
The aim of a cable manufacturing company was to minimize setup times and reduce time to market. A lean team discovered ways to reduce the time it took to set up machines and change them out. A scheduling system was implemented to improve just-in-time manufacturing and upstream balance component output with downstream manufacturing and assembly.
Results: System setup times were reduced from five hours to 35 minutes, resulting in an additional five hours of up-time per machine per day.
A retailer used an incoming warehouse to store vast quantities of raw materials. Three full-time material stagers unloaded, processed, and distributed materials to assembly lines as required, resulting in high operating costs. The management decided to get rid of the warehouse while keeping production moving. For just-in-time production, a lean team collaborated with suppliers to design a point-of-use kanban system. Flow manufacturing and 5S workplace organization were also taught to the employees.
Results: The warehouse was converted for other value-added operations after it was no longer used for raw-material storage. The three stagers were prepared for roles at a higher level.